Folk Roots Radio Episode 354: Folk Roots Radio At Christmas

Folk Root Radio Episode 354 - Folk Roots Radio At Christmas

Well, it’s that time of year… time for a very special holiday season edition of Folk Roots Radio. Now, I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas music, I just hate the uninspiring way it gets used in the run up to the holiday… especially if you’re in the mall, or the grocery store or dare I say it, listening to the radio. So here it is, my attempt at some thoughtful and insightful holiday music programming – featuring mostly new self-written songs, and if they’re not original compositions, well let’s just say the artists concerned definitely take them a little off the beaten track. Enjoy! Check out the full playlist below.

Show Notes

We started off the episode with three songs about the winter solstice, with the Mary Chapin Carpenter classic “The Longest Night of the Year”, followed by NJ based singer-songwriter Sharon Goldman’s “Solstice Sky” which features on Hudson Harding Music’s “Happy Holidays Volume 11” (2016, Hudson Harding Music). Each of those albums features original seasonal music from independent artists. We also heard from the Chicago based singer-songwriter with the fabulous baritone voice, Joe Jencks, on his song “Longest Night Of The Year” and that’s from his latest album “Poets, Philosophers Workers & Wanderers”. Joe joined us on Folk Roots Radio a few months ago to chat about the new album. It’s a really great interview. You can find it on our website HERE. And we wrapped the set with 2014 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artist Chris LaVancher with his holiday song “Why I Love These Holidays” from Hudson Harding Music Happy Holidays Volume 12 (2017, Hudson Harding Music)

We followed that with three songs that focus on three aspects of magical winter nights, leading off with Cambridge ON’s Jay Linden with “Upon The Winter’s Morning” from his 2006 album “Satchel” followed by Vancouver’s Reid Jamieson with his version of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Song For A Winter’s Night” from his 2012 album of the same name and wrapping with Heather Pierson‘s “Starlight” from her 2010 solo album “Make It Mine”. Heather released “Singing’”, a great new album with her trio and a recording that’s very likely to feature in our Favourite Albums of the Year. Stay tuned for more information about that.

Noel Paul Stookey from Peter Paul & Mary has a his new E.P. out, “Summerfallwinterspring” (2017, Neworld). His song “Somethin’ Special” is another reflection on Christmas as a child. While Chris Elliott from Western Massachusetts folk duo Austin & Elliott, tells a satirical tale of family and political tension on “Home for the Holidays”. That’s from Chris’s 2017 self-titled solo record, and it reminds me of the Holly Hunter movie of the same name (from 1995), which is a bit of a personal favourite though that film is about going home for Thanksgiving not Christmas, though I think its safe to say that the same dynamic holds, especially in these troubled times.

Fortunately the Dirty Dishes from Toronto came along next with their new single “Paris for Christmas”, to lighten up the mood a little more. Dirty Dishes feature Suzy Wilde on vocals, guitar and washboard, Lisa Olafson on vocals, guitar and ukulele, and Alison Porter on vocals and fiddle on the Triplets of Belleville-style tongue in cheek holiday song “Paris for Christmas” that also features virtuoso players Drew Jureka on fiddle, Steve Briggs on guitar, Kelsey McNaulty on accordion and backed by their rhythm section “The Plate Rails,” (Henry Heillig and Jay Boehmer).

According to the Dishes’, the lyrics express one woman’s fantasy to escape after enduring the drudgery of Christmas preparations, jetting off to Paris for a swanky good time, eating escargots and drinking wine on the banks of the Seine. After making all of the arrangements, there’s one final task she leaves for her husband, delivered with cranberry sass: “I left the turkey in the freezer my dear. And this year you can stuff it on your own!” That does sound like a good plan. Sign me up!

Swedish folk/Americana artist Sofia Talvik splits her time between Scandinavia and Nroth America. Each year, she releases a new Christmas song. This year, she’s released a full album, When Winter Comes – A Christmas Album (2017, Makaki Music). On this episode we play the beautiful “When It Rains On Christmas Day”. Bruce T. Carroll‘s “(Christmas) Without You” comes from “Ruckus & Romance” (2017, Self), his first official album and a rumination on life, relationships, the universe and everything.

A look at great holiday music wouldn’t be complete without a dip into the blues. On this episode we play the Likho Duo take on God Rest You Merry Gentleman, titled, of course, “God Rest Ye Merry Bluesmen”, the title track of their new holiday E.P. (2017, Litho Records) alongside Sacramento’s Val Starr & The Blues Rocket who reflect on “Spending Christmas With The Blues”

We wrapped it all up with Toronto’s contemporary folk trio The O’Pears new single “Quiet Now”. “Quiet Now” captures the importance of slowing down over the holiday season, and I guess being thankful for what you have, and considerate with those that are less fortunate than we are. They perfect way to approach the holidays as far as I’m concerned. All the best for a safe and enjoyable festive season.

And that’s all we have time for, this time around. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We have a lot of great music and interviews to bring you on future shows. I hope you’ll join us!


You can listen to this episode again on Soundcloud by following the link below. You can also listen to episodes of Folk Roots Radio, on demand, via iTunes, Mixcloud, Stitcher and Tune-in Radio. (Click on the highlighted link to reach your chosen platform.)


Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises (Demo)
Roll Right (Pre-release, self)

Mary Chapin Carpenter
The Longest Night of the Year
Come Darkness, Come Light – Twelve Songs of Christmas (2008, Rounder Records)

Sharon Goldman
Solstice Sky
Happy Holidays Volume 11 (2016, Hudson Harding Music)

Joe Jencks
Longest Night Of The Year
Poets, Philosophers Workers & Wanderers (2017, Turtle Bear Music)

Chris LaVancher
Why I Love These Holidays
Happy Holidays Volume 12 (2017, Hudson Harding Music)

Likho Duo
God Rest Ye Merry Bluesmen
God Rest Ye Merry Bluesmen (2017, Likho Records)

Jay Linden
Upon The Winter’s Morning
Satchel (2006, Self) CDN

Reid Jamieson
Song For A Winter’s Night
Songs For A Winter’s Night (2012, Self) CDN

Heather Pierson
Make It Mine (2010, Vessel Recordings)

Noel Paul Stookey
Somethin’ Special
Summerfallwinterspring (2017, Neworld)

Chris Elliott
Home For The Holidays
Chris Elliott (2017, Self)

Dirty Dishes
Paris For Christmas
(single) (2017, Self) CDN

Sofia Talvik
When It Rains On Christmas Day
When Winter Comes – A Christmas Album (2017, Makaki Music)

Bruce T. Carroll
(Christmas) Without You
Ruckus & Romance (2017, Self)

Val Starr & The Blues Rocket
Spending Christmas With The Blues
Woman On A Mission (2016, Sandwich Factory Records)

The O’Pears
Quiet Now
(single) (2017, Self) CDN

About the author


Host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan Hall started in Radio in 1993 at WEFT 90.1fm in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Folk Roots Radio (formerly Royal City Rag) debuted on CFRU 93.3fm in August 2005 before developing into a syndicated radio show. As the host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan focuses on bringing new folk, roots and blues music and the voices of upcoming and independent artists to the airwaves. Jan is also a much sought after stage host and festival emcee. In 2019, Jan Hall received Folk Music Ontario's prestigious Estelle Klein Award for her contribution to Ontario's folk music community.

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